The Mercy Rule

Welcome to Baseball

By David Roth

If there's one way that baseball fans are at a disadvantage relative to baseball anti-fans—for instance, fans lose nearly a month of productivity and numerous friends each year while attempting to come up with appropriately punny names for their fantasy teams—it's that only the latter can really articulate why they feel the way they do about the sport. Baseball fans know why they love the game, of course, but unless you're a talented novelist like Colum McCann (or literally actually the talented novelist Colum McCann) it's difficult to explain that without needing to refer to a bunch of things we barely even remember learning. Whereas people who don't like baseball can say things like, "It's fucking boring, are you serious?" and, "Chances are, Bravo would have gotten there eventually, but baseball made a steroid-marinated pork chop named Jose Canseco rich, for Christ's sake." Which, honestly, fair enough: Baseball is indeed boring if you're bored by baseball.

Still not sure if you’re a fan or a non-fan? Here are some questions you may have about baseball, and some answers that will, I hope, help you figure out whether America's favorite pastime—just kidding, it's our fifth most popular pastime, behind eating poorly, the National Football League, bit-torrenting successful films/pornography, and huffily denied but palpable racism—is for you.

Is it always this slow? Because this game I'm watching is incredibly slow.
Yes, it's always this slow. Those of us who love baseball also love the way that games are filled with space and quiet and something almost exactly like boredom—we love it because it allows us some room to create our own experience of the game; it's slow enough by design that we have no choice but to create our own experience of it. The bad news is that, if you find that pace brutally boring, you will probably never like baseball. Which is fine. Hollywood is almost certainly making another sequel to National Treasure, so maybe get ready for that?

The guys on TV talking about these games… I'm getting the sense that at least one of them is drunk. Am I way off? Do regular people usually have this hard a time coming up with basic adjectives or not laughing for no reason?
No, you're absolutely right. They're all drunk.

Hello there. I was referred here by a George Will column. I don't necessarily know what he was talking about, but there was something about "ineluctable folkways." What was that all about?
No idea, honestly. But if you're a baseball fan because the most permanently and predictably bow-tied conservative pundit in America is a baseball fan, you should probably follow his lead and pretend to be a Cubs fan (because it's tragic, given that the Cubs have been miserable for a dozen generations) but actually, in your heart, be a Cardinals fan (because that is basically the most Republican thing in the world, and because they're actually good).

So, and this isn't racist or anything, but like all of these guys are Mexican, or what?
Oh wow. You should probably get into the Arizona Diamondbacks. They're pretty good, actually, but more importantly Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the vengeful sack of bigoted mayonnaise who is Sheriff For Life in Maricopa County, usually does a couple of stop-and-frisks or document raids on the team's Hispanic players during every home game. During the Diamondbacks Spring Training games, Arpaio's deputies regularly drove an armored assault vehicle through the centerfield fence and made catcher Miguel Montero lie facedown on the ground at home plate. They pointed AR-15's at him and made him recite the Pledge of Allegiance, received standing ovations for having done so, and then drove out through a different part of the fence. So if you're into that, you should definitely check out the D-Backs.

I'm kind of a different type of fan, I guess you'd say. Where other fans pull for the teams with the most money or the most storied history, I fancy myself…
Stop. Stop it. You're a Tampa Bay Rays fan. That's cool, they're totally interesting and admirable and have managed to succeed while building their team in an unconventional and intelligent way. Every baseball fan is kind of a Rays fan, at least a little bit. Just know that no other baseball fan will fully accept you as a Rays fan until you actually go down to Central Florida—which is basically a giant Romano's Macaroni Grill except full of intensely paranoid gun-toting retirees, young people named Skylar (male and female) who want to steal your prescription drugs, and horrible traffic—and actually watch them in person at that creepy stadium of theirs. Seriously, watch a Rays game on TV—it's all lit like an Underworld movie.

For me, it's all about winning. Always has been. That's why I grew this chin-strap beard, and take pride in treating my girlfriend, whose name is either Tina or Dina, like shit. In fact, my friends call me…
Wow, shut up. You're a Yankees fan, or possibly a Phillies fan. Anyway, congratulations. Your team is totally good. Please don't come back here.

Hey, same thing as above, but my girlfriend's name is Shannon and I have a goatee.
Oh, cool. Anyway, you're a Red Sox fan. You hate the person above. You should probably fight.

Previously - My Beautiful Dork Twisted Fantasy

@David_J_Roth

Comments